Ana as God: Religion, interdiscursivity, and identity on pro-ana websites

K Stapleton, Sarah L. Evans, Catrin Rhys

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
244 Downloads (Pure)


Pro-anorexia (pro-ana) is an Internet-based movement that provides advice and support for the development/maintenance of an eating disorder (ED). The movement is sometimes framed as a religion, with rituals, psalms, creeds and the invocation of a deity (Ana) who personifies the ED. The latter aspect is likely to influence identities and behaviours as well as providing emotional support and motivation for community members. However, there is little sustained empirical analysis of how members themselves orient to and self-position within the religious discourse. Here, we apply the concept of interdiscursivity to examine the construction of Ana as god(dess). Drawing on a body of online interactions from one pro-ana website over a 47-day period, we discursively analyse members’ constructions of Ana and their relationship with her. With reference to Biblical texts, we consider how these constructions directly reference concepts of Christian religion and faith. Implications for understanding pro-ana and interdiscursivity are discussed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)320-341
Number of pages22
JournalDiscourse and Communication
Issue number3
Early online date4 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 Jun 2019

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.

Copyright 2019 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • Pro-ana, religious metaphor, Ana, discourse analysis, identity, interdiscursivity, eating disorder, online community
  • pro-ana
  • eating disorder
  • online community
  • Ana
  • discourse analysis
  • identity
  • interdiscursivity
  • religious metaphor


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